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Blair for EU President!

by Almanax Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 07:10:47 AM EST

I cannot quite fathom how anyone could think this is a good idea. Indeed, I think it could do permanent damage to the EU:

Push for Blair as new EU president
Financial Times

Tony Blair, the British prime minister, could end up swapping Downing Street for a job as the first full-time European Union president, under a plan being actively touted by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president.

It would, justifiably so, reinforce the stereotype of the EU as an out of touch, morally degraded institution. Even if to a large extent a representative function, it would permanently stain the office with Blair's past and present warmongering. It would also do precisely nothing to make the EU more popular with the Brits - on the contrary. Nor would it be helpful in international relations, much less once Bush leaves office.

Thankfully, there is still reason to hope that this will never actually happen.


Firstly, the job doesn't even exist at this point; it's establishment is only a proposal for the negotiations of the new EU treaty. As proposed, the job would be a permanent replacement for the current six-monthly rotating presidency.

The second reason to hope is that Blair seems skeptical and denies interest, at least for now:

Mr Blair's aides admit that Mr Sarkozy and other EU leaders have suggested the idea, but Downing Street insisted that Mr Blair was standing down from frontline politics on June 27. He has denied interest in the job.

Thirdly, there seem to be at least some important countries who are opposed to the idea:

But the British prime minister remains unpopular with governments in countries such as Italy and Spain, which opposed the Iraq war. Mr Blair's failure to take Britain into the euro will also count against him.

I wonder what the Germans think of this. I also wonder what possible motivation Sarkozy has to make this hare-brained proposal. I have a hard time taking the justification given by Sarkozy aides serious:

One of Mr Sarkozy's allies said they could not confirm the president was backing Mr Blair, but expressed support for the idea: "Why not? He is qualified for it. We want a politically strong Europe. We want a president who is credible."

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I do favour the establishment of a federal presidency in general though. Something I just noticed is that the article seems to suggest that the president would be appointed? Why not use this opportunity to have a real EU wide vote?
by Almanax on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 07:17:32 AM EST
It pains me to say it, but Blair would probably win a popular vote.
by det on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 11:43:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seriously?

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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 05:06:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The President of the EU commission is appointed.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 05:27:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We want a president who is credible.
So why the hell are you backing Blair?!?

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 07:28:44 AM EST
I can only imagine this is meant as "Blair is a major, well-known figure and would thus give the office more weight than some unknown bureaucrat". However, it seems blatantly obvious that Blair's this is something entirely different from "credibility" in the sense of establishing trust with the population and the international community.

I mean, Blair, for god's sake. It would be a public relations disaster at the very minimum. Is Sarkozy really so foolish? Or does he aim to discredit and weaken the Union on purpose? What could possible motivate him to push for Blair?

by Almanax on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 07:55:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"...seems blatantly obvious that Blair's this is..."

That "Blair's" shouldn't have been left in there, of course.

by Almanax on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 07:57:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that the "credibility" being talked about here is credibility in the eyes of the opinion-generators who, for instance, decided that France was experiencing "malaise" and needed a "rupture"--in essence, the people in the political and media elite who put Blair and Sarko in office in the first place.  Blair will always be "credible" to them--he's one of their creations.
by Tsmoss (delta mike niner two two att bard period education) on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 01:48:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Could you use bush and cheney, too.  It would be a shame to break up a set.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 07:23:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They mean "credible" in the following sense:
Establishing Credibility

And the US doesn't want to present evidence because it wants to be able to do it, to act without evidence. That's a crucial part of the reaction. You will notice that the US did not ask for Security Council authorization which they probably could have gotten this time, not for pretty reasons, but because the other permanent members of the Security Council are also terrorist states. They are happy to join a coalition against what they call terror, namely in support of their own terror. Like Russia wasn't going to veto, they love it. So the US probably could have gotten Security Council authorization but it didn't want it. And it didn't want it because it follows a long-standing principle which is not George Bush, it was explicit in the Clinton administration, articulated and goes back much further and that is that we have the right to act unilaterally. We don't want international authorization because we act unilaterally and therefore we don't want it. We don't care about evidence. We don't care about negotiation. We don't care about treaties. We are the strongest guy around; the toughest thug on the block. We do what we want. Authorization is a bad thing and therefore must be avoided. There is even a name for it in the technical literature. It's called establishing credibility. You have to establish credibility. That's an important factor in many policies. It was the official reason given for the war in the Balkans and the most plausible reason.

You want to know what credibility means, ask your favorite Mafia Don. He'll explain to you what credibility means. And it's the same in international affairs, except it's talked about in universities using big words, and that sort of thing. But it's basically the same principle. And it makes sense. And it usually works. The main historian who has written about this in the last couple years is Charles Tilly with a book called Coercion, Capital, and European States. He points out that violence has been the leading principle of Europe for hundreds of years and the reason is because it works. You know, it's very reasonable. It almost always works. When you have an overwhelming predominance of violence and a culture of violence behind it. So therefore it makes sense to follow it. Well, those are all problems in pursuing lawful paths. And if you did try to follow them you'd really open some very dangerous doors. Like the US is demanding that the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden. And they are responding in a way which is regarded as totally absurd and outlandish in the west, namely they are saying, Ok, but first give us some evidence. In the west, that is considered ludicrous. It's a sign of their criminality. How can they ask for evidence? I mean if somebody asked us to hand someone over, we'd do it tomorrow. We wouldn't ask for any evidence. [crowd laughter].



Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 05:32:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We want a politically strong Europe.

Do these people seriously believe that this is what Blair wants? If so, I would like to know what they are basing that assumption on. Blair makes a big show of declaring himself pro-EU, but there precious little evidence of it in his actions.

by det on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 11:41:35 AM EST
Actually, thinking of it, would he get the position, he'd want a politically strong Europe. Just not a democratic, social, progressive one...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 01:12:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I want another 5 years of gridlock.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 05:36:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First of all let me tell you that the media in Portugal is reporting that a constitutional agreement might be reached before the German presidency is off. That agreement would create the figure of a permanent President opposed to today's rotating presidency.

Sarkozy proposing Blair for President just shows how Europe has completely lost its political compass.

Contrary to Almanax I think that Blair will probably make the place. To the Socialists he's better than a Christian Democrat; to the later he's better than any other Socialist.

This makes me sick, I want to vote for my President!


luis_de_sousa@mastodon.social

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]protonmail[dot]ch) on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 01:32:35 PM EST
Right on. And welcome to ET!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 02:35:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right on!

To the Socialists he's better than a Christian Democrat; to the later he's better than any other Socialist.

Exactly, this is yet another master move by The Enemy™

Normally one would expect Barroso to be followed by a member of the PES. Now, what  could be better for the EPP that to propose a trojan horse of a "Socialist" who is a neocon war criminal and always got along better with the likes of Bush, Aznar, Berlusconi, Barroso, Balkenende, Klaus and the Kaczynski brothers than with any centre-left European leaders?

And the worst is that the PES will likely just say "cool, he's one of us".

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 05:35:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I cannot quite fathom how anyone could think this is a good idea. Indeed, I think it could do permanent damage to the EU

I cannot quite fathom how you could fail to see the contradiction in here.

Of course Blair and Sarkozy like the idea. They want to destroy the EU.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 05:26:41 PM EST
Fair enough.
by Almanax on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 06:24:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All of it, or just the part that doesn't deal with big business?


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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 05:13:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They want to turn the EU into the EFTA.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 06:00:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, they want to turn the EU into a coercive 'free trade'-imposing institution that the EFTA never was.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 10:10:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you notice the subtle ambiguity in the headline Push for Blair as new EU president?

Ostensibly, they mean [A] push for Blair as new EU president. Subliminally, it's  giving a command to the FT-reading European elites.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 05:39:25 PM EST
I always liked the - possibly apochryphal - WWII headline with the missing comma: 'French Push Bottles Up Germans'

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 06:08:18 PM EST
After a brief perusal of the net I found this quote

Nigel Rees -- editor of Cassell's Humourous Quotations (2003; ISBN 0-304-36588-2; p. 344) -- notes that this "possibly apocryphal headline" was quoted by Robert Lacy on BBC Radio's Quote . . . Unquote in February, 1979. Rees mentions that Lacy had claimed it came from a 1942 issue of the News Chronicle, a now defunct British newspaper.

and for more details there's a link here that discusses this quote

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Jun 16th, 2007 at 06:25:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What missing comma?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 05:59:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hold on, what are we talking about here? On the one hand, there is (or would be) the president of the Council, organising the summits and acting as a head of state. Blair might have a shot at this position if he really wants to, but I doubt both.
On the other hand, there's the president of the Commission, who could be called head of government and can only be appointed in accordance with the parliament. As parties start to form at the pan- European level, this process will probably develop to a stage where both big parties (PES and EPP) name one of their own as candidate for this position in a European election (2014, I guess). It's improbable that Blair would be chosen by the PES and even then, he wouldn't win.

/ My crazy little theory concerning Sarkozy: he wants to split both jobs between the two parties already, Blair for president of the Council and... let me think... Juppé for the commission? ;)

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 03:17:40 PM EST
Do you think the French, Spanish and German Socialists would prevent a Bliar candidacy? I think only a part of them would take it as far. While the EPP could bet on dividing the Socialists by withdrawing its own candidate. I am hopeful but not too optimistic about the tactical clout of the PES at the moment.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 05:44:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm rather optimistic, so I say it's "improbable". But at this moment in the battle over the future of Europe, it could go in any way.

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 08:58:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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